Jaylen Brown is seeing green in Boston, and it has nothing to do with the color of his Celtics’ uniforms.
The 6’6” 26-year-old guard/forward signed a fully guaranteed five-year, $304-million contract with the Boston Celtics, the richest deal in league history. Brown, who is entering into his eighth year in the NBA, became eligible for what’s known as a supermax contract extension once he earned All-NBA honors this past season as one of the league’s premier players.
His last contract with the Celtics was below the maximum amount he could have signed, and, by many accounts, was below the market value for a player of his caliber. With his new deal, Brown’s nearly $61 million annual salary is twice as much as Michael Jordan’s salary when he was far-and-away the highest-paid player in the league in 1998. The massive increase in salary is thanks in large part to increased salary caps from league deals with corporations and media outlets.
Although the sheer contract amount was the most headline-grabbing news to come from the team’s press conference to announce the extension, it was Brown’s response to what he was going to do with his money that warranted the most applause.
When asked what he would do with the kind of generational wealth that comes along with signing a $300-million-plus contract, Brown said:
“I want to launch a project to bring Black Wall Street here to Boston. I want to attack the wealth disparity here. I think there’s analytics that support that stimulating the wealth gap could be something that could be for the betterment of the entire economy. With the biggest financial deal in NBA history, it makes sense to talk about one: your investment in community; two: the wealth disparity here that nobody wants to talk about,” he said.
Brown continued: “It’s top-five in the U.S. It’s something that we can all improve on. It’s unsettling and I think through my platform, through influential partners, through selective leaders, government leaders – a lot who are in this room – that we can come together and create new jobs, new resources, new businesses, new ideas that could highlight minorities, but also stimulate the economy and the wealth gap at the same time. I think that could be a mix of commercial entities, real estate, residential as well.”
His declaration of purpose-driven philanthropy for Black residents in Boston is reminiscent of how other NBA stars have given back to their communities, including LeBron James’ I Promise School in Akron and Jalen Rose’s Leadership Academy in Detroit. Countless others have launched similar projects, but none have been as bold as Brown with his specific and direct call to Boston leaders to work with him to help close the income disparity that is as apparent in Boston as it is in most other cities in the country.
“Boston could be a fully integrated, self-sufficient hub…stimulating the wealth gap. I think that Boston could be a pilot, not just for wealth disparity here in the U.S., but also for around the world,” he said.
“So, you asked me what I wanted to do or what I want to do. One, I want to attack that wealth gap here, in Boston, and create a project. Also, I want to stimulate the overall economy, and I want to bring Black Wall Street here to Boston.”